ALBANY, N.Y. – Pet owners were rechecking their cabinets and threatening legal action after state officials said rat poison was found in pet food blamed for the deaths of at least 16 cats and dogs. It was unclear how many deaths would eventually be linked to the “cuts and gravy”-style food produced by Menu Foods, but scientists said Friday that they expected more would be announced. The substance in the food was identified as aminopterin, a cancer drug that once was used to induce abortions in the United States and is still used to kill rats in some other countries, state Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker said. The federal government prohibits using aminopterin for killing rodents in the U.S. State officials would not speculate on how the poison got into the pet food, but said no criminal investigations had been launched. The pet deaths led to a recall of 60 million cans and pouches of dog and cat food the company produced and sold throughout North America. After Friday’s announcement, Menu Foods food advised retailers to remove all brands from their shelves, a company spokesman said, though the recall still applies only to the dog and cat foods identified on its Web site since March 16. Those cover cans and pouches of food packaged from Dec. 3 through March 6. “The recall has not been expanded,” Menu spokesman Sam Bornstein said Saturday. Menu Foods, based in Ontario, Canada, said it would take responsibility for pet medical expenses incurred as a result of the tainted food, but it was cold comfort to the owners of pets sickened or killed. “Before they put this stuff in the bags, there should be some kind of test,” said San Fernando Valley resident Jeff Kerner, whose Yorkshire terrier Pebbles died Thursday. “I can’t just let it go. Even if they just change the law.” The dog had eaten some of the food, Kerner said, and he was contacting an attorney because he wanted to prevent another pet tragedy. Some pets that ate the recalled brands suffered kidney failure, and the company has confirmed the deaths of 15 cats and one dog. However, pet owners and veterinarians said the tally could actually be higher, and other deaths were reported anecdotally around the country. There is no risk to pet owners from handling the food, officials said. The Food and Drug Administration has said the investigation was focused on wheat gluten in the food. The gluten itself would not cause kidney failure, but it could have been contaminated, the FDA said. Paul Henderson, chief executive of Menu Foods, confirmed Friday that the wheat gluten was purchased from China. Bob Rosenberg, senior vice president of government affairs for the National Pest Management Association, said it would be unusual for the wheat to be tainted. “It would make no sense to spray a crop itself with rodenticide,” Rosenberg said, adding that grain shippers typically put bait stations around the perimeter of their storage facilities. Scientists at the New York State Animal Health Diagnostic Center at Cornell University and at the New York State Food Laboratory tested three cat food samples provided by the manufacturer and found aminopterin in two of them. The two labs are part of a network created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to keep the nation’s animals and food supply safe. “Any amount of this product is too much in food,” Hooker said. Aminopterin is highly toxic in high doses. It inhibits the growth of malignant cells and suppresses the immune system. In dogs and cats, the amount of aminopterin found – 40 parts per million – can cause kidney failure, according to Bruce Akey, director of Cornell’s diagnostic center. “It’s there in substantial amounts,” Akey said. Donald Smith, dean of Cornell’s veterinary school, said he expected the number of pet deaths to increase. “Based on what we’ve heard the last couple days, 16 is a low number,” Smith said. Aminopterin is no longer marketed as a cancer drug, but is still used in research, said Andre Rosowsky, a chemist with the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. Rosowsky speculated that the substance would not show up in pet food “unless somebody put it there.” Henderson said Menu Foods does not believe the food was tampered with because the recalled food came from two different plants – one in Kansas, one in New Jersey. Menu continues to produce food at the two plants.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!
SHOWBIZ EXCLUSIVE: Daniel O’Donnell is to be given a special Late Late Show tribute to celebrate his career and 50th birthday!Donegaldaily.com understands the millionaire entertainer will join Ryan Tubridy on the RTE show which comes just three days before his milestone birthday on December 12th next.A host of stars as well as family and friends are being lined up for the show on December 9th. A spokesman for the Late Late Show told Donegaldaily.com they are planning a very special celebration for Daniel.“Daniel is a real friend of the Late Late Show and we always get terrific feedback after his appearances.“The exact format of his appearance has not been finalised but we will be inviting his family and friends.“Hopefully he will sing a coupe of songs and we will look back on his career to date. And who knows, we might even have a birthday cake for him,” said the spokeswoman. RTE is hoping the tribute show will get huge ratings.“Daniel is a huge star and there is bound to be a huge audience, not just from Ireland, but from around the world,” said a source.Daniel has already told wife Majella that he does not want a big fuss made for his 50th.Majella said she is planning on taking the singer away for three days to pamper him instead.© 2011 donegaldaily.com, all Rights Reserved The copying, republication or redistribution of donegaldaily.com Content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited by law.Follow us on www.twitter.com/donegaldailyFollow us on www.facebook.com/donegaldailyDANIEL TO GET SPECIAL LATE LATE TRIBUTE TO CELEBRATE SHOWBIZ CAREER was last modified: November 19th, 2011 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:daniel o’donnellLate Late ShowRTE